Brazil will be attempting to win its first gold medal in football at this summer’s Olympic Games in England. Manager Mano Menezes knows the fans back home would love to see the squad bring the gold home with them and has included some of the nation’s top young players on the team as well as defender Thiago Silva of AC Milan, Porto striker Hulk and defender Marcelo of Real Madrid as the team’s three over age players.
Ladbrokes.com are putting Brazil as favorites for 2.75 in odds, before Spain, which is probably a correct decision.
The 18-man squads have to consist of players aged 23 and under with three over aged members allowed. Some of the young stars named include Paulo Henrique Ganso, Neymar, Leandro Damiao, Oscar, Alexandre Pato, Rafael, Sandro, and Lucas. While Brazil has won the World Cup a record five times, the country has never won an Olympic tournament. Brazil hasn’t come home empty handed from the Olympics on every occasion though since they won the silver medal in both 1988 and 1984 and captured the bronze in 2008 and 1996.
There’s a lot of pressure on Menezes’ shoulders since the Brazilian football federation stated that the Olympics is a priority. A poor performance by the team in Britain could cost Menezes his managerial position prior to the 2014 World Cup, which will be hosted by Brazil. The strong line-up proves the Brazilians are serious about the Olympics and will be among the favourites to reach the podium. Many of the same players are also expected to play for the world Cup squad too.
The team is so strong that several experienced stars were cut from the final selection. Menezes originally chose a provisional squad of 35, but when the final 18 were announced there was no room for defenders David Luiz of Chelsea and Daniel Alves of Barcelona as well as forward Philippe Coutinho of Espanyol. Other over age players who were ruled out included Robinho, Ronaldinho, and Kaka.
Brazil has already played four pre-tournament games and Menezes said some of the players who impressed him during those matches, such as hulk, were selected to the team. The manager said Hulk adds quite a bit of strength to the squad and he also possesses a lot of experience. He added that he felt it was important to add an experienced striker as one of the squad’s over age players.
Menezes said Thiago Silva was actually chosen for the squad some time ago, but Marcelo worked his way onto the team during the pre-tournament games with his excellent play. However, he feels the team still has a lot of hard work ahead if it since they lost games to 4-3 to Lionel Messi and Argentina and 2-0 against Mexico while beating Denmark and America.
The Brazilians will head over to Europe on July 16th and then take on Great Britain at Middlesbrough on July 20th before kicking off their Olympic schedule against Egypt at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on July 26th. The team will then head to Old Trafford for a match against Belarus on July 29th and will finish its Group C schedule on Aug 1st in Newcastle where they meet New Zealand.
Brazil Olympic 2012 Squad
Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina); Alex Sandro (Porto), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Manchester United), Danilo (Porto), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo), Juan (Inter Milan); Sandro (Tottenham), Romulo (Spartak Moscow), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Lucas Moura (Sao Paulo); Neymar (Santos), Leandro Damiao (International), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Hulk (Porto).
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